Reviews for Flying solo : a novel

Library Journal
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Holmes (Evvie Drake Starts Over) returns to the cozy everytown of Calcasset, Maine for a new story about what it means to choose your own path. Laurie Sassalyn has valued privacy and independence above all else, much like her Great-Aunt Dot. When Laurie returns to her home town to settle Dot's estate, she finds herself entangled anew with Calcasset in general and in ex-boyfriend Nick in particular. Meanwhile, the discovery of a wooden duck prompts an escalating battle between Laurie and a scam artist determined to maneuver it away from her. Julia Whelan's grounded narration expresses both Laurie's generally sunny disposition and her struggles to reconcile her conflicting desires for Nick with her principles of autonomy. Whelan perfectly captures the relatability of conversations among old friends even when decades have passed. She also excels at humorous internal monologue and slides in just the lightest touch of Maine accent where most appropriate. VERDICT Recommended for fans of the thoughtful contemporary romances of Emily Henry and Marisa de los Santos.—Natalie Marshall


Publishers Weekly
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Holmes (Evvie Drake Starts Over) serves up a sweet romance with a side of mystery in this fun page-turner. Laurie Sassalyn, having recently called off her wedding and on the cusp of her 40th birthday, returns to her Maine hometown to clean out the house of her recently deceased great-aunt Dot. Sorting through Dot’s belongings, Laurie finds a wooden duck decoy and an old letter with an inscrutable reference to ducks. She investigates the story behind the decoy with the help of a few friends, including her high school sweetheart Nick. Laurie and Nick renew their romance, but to his disappointment, Laurie has no plans to stay in town or settle down. Meanwhile, Laurie hires a man to help clean out the house, but when he finds out the duck might have a connection to a famous artist, he swindles Laurie and buys it for much less than it’s worth. After she realizes her mistake, she and her friends hatch a harebrained scheme to recover the decoy. Holmes’s colorful cast of characters pop off the page, and the sure-footed plot entertains. Readers will be eager to see what Holmes does next. (June)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A woman returns to her hometown of Calcasset, Maine, to clean out her recently deceased great-aunt’s house—but runs into a few surprises along the way. When Laurie Sassalyn’s beloved great-aunt Dot dies at the age of 93, Laurie takes on the job of cleaning out her house. Even as a child, Laurie idolized Dot and the life she lived as a single, adventurous woman. Dot traveled, never got married, and (most important to Laurie, who grew up with four brothers and a constant stream of noise) had a silent house. Now that Laurie’s almost 40, she’s re-created Dot’s life for herself in Seattle, where she lives in peace, enjoying her job as a freelance nature writer and spending her free time with her many friends. Cleaning out Dot’s house is a big task, but Laurie thinks Dot deserves the respect of having someone go through her stuff instead of just trashing everything. Alongside the many books and boxes full of old photos, Laurie finds something surprising—a wooden duck, carefully kept in a cedar chest. Laurie can sense that this duck was important to Dot, and she enlists the help of a “bereavement declutterer” to help her discern its value. She also reconnects with librarian Nick Cooper, the high school boyfriend she dumped when she realized that he wanted to stay in Calcasset. Nick and Laurie have both changed over the years—he’s been married and divorced, and she’s broken off an engagement—but what hasn’t changed is their deep connection. Nick and Laurie grow closer as they search for answers about the mysterious duck—especially when their search leads them to what might be the world’s first wooden duck heist. As Laurie’s feelings for Nick grow, she starts to wonder if her friend June is right when she says, “You don’t have to be single to be independent. And you don’t have to be married to be loved.” As in her debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over (2019), Holmes displays a gift for warm, richly drawn characters and situations that are as cozy as a steaming cup of tea. Laurie is refreshing as a heroine who is entering her 40s, a size 18, and completely comfortable with her life as an unmarried, child-free woman. There are no dramatics or big fights between her and Nick—just a believable adult relationship with real-world obstacles. A charming and easygoing look at all kinds of love and the beauty of independence, featuring supremely likable characters. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

As a child, Laurie Sassalyn would escape to her Aunt Dot’s to get away from the chaos and hubbub of her own home. Years later, Laurie returns to Calcasset, Maine, to help clear out Aunt Dot’s house. Much of what Laurie finds is the usual mementos of a life well lived, but hidden inside one of Aunt Dot’s chests is an unexpected treasure: a beautifully painted duck decoy. Why did Aunt Dot hide it away? Laurie enlists Matt, the handsome “bereavement declutterer” who is helping sort through Aunt Dot’s belongings, but when Laurie discovers that Matt has nefarious intentions, she, her childhood best friend, June, and her high-school boyfriend, Nick, band together to solve the mystery. There’s still a spark between Laurie and Nick, and Laurie has to figure out a path forward that satisfies both her need for solitude and independence and her desire for a relationship. Holmes (Evvie Drake Starts Over, 2019) blends humor, emotional depth, and small-town charm in this delightful story about the bonds of family and friendship, showing how even the most independent people need someone to lean on. Readers will love spending time with Laurie and her friends; suggest to fans of Katherine Center and Abbi Waxman.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Holmes's (host of the podcast Pop Culture Happy House) charming, often hilarious second book is set in the same small Maine town as her first (Evvie Drake Starts Over), with some of the same supporting cast. Laurie Sassalyn recently called off her wedding and is back in her hometown of Calcasset, ME, to clean out the house of her beloved late great-aunt Dot. Hidden away inside is a wooden duck decoy; Laurie has it appraised, learns that it has minimal value, and sells it to an antique dealer for $50. When she realizes the appraisal was fraudulent, she and friends both old and new plan a heist to get the decoy duck back. At the same time, Laurie is giving serious thought to the kind of life she wants to lead and the fact that it looks a lot like the life of resolutely unmarried Dot, who had plenty of friends, travel, meaningful work, extended family, and hobbies, plus an active love life well into her eighth decade. But when Laurie reconnects with her first love, Nick, who's now divorced and running the Calcasset library, it complicates her plans. VERDICT A delight from start to finish. Holmes has clearly done her research into how public librarians spend their time, and she also asks serious questions about how to make hard choices and live one's life.—Stephanie Klose

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